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Posts posted by sanatan

  1. Suchandra...that's a comprehensive list of Srila Prabhupada's opinions on the subject!


    I just haven't personally seen people become ISKCON devotees with the motive of "wanting to be cheated", or with the desire to cheat others. The lifestyle has always been too demanding, and this didn't change in the post-Prabhupada era; there has to be a sincere motive at first.


    Certainly many came and still come with anarthas mixed in with a desire for the spiritual: those with strong material attachments (me), those with unresolved pschological issues, those looking for shelter from a very nasty world, and on and on, ad infinitum. I've seen also seen more than a few good souls join and their spiritual lives blossom.


    The ones who ended up becoming domineering power freaks and criminals were very certainly like that pre-ISKCON, or had the tendencies lying in wait for the right opportunity. But their motives in joining...at least they were sincere at the beginning.


    This is wishful thinking. the cat is out of the bag. hardly anybody comes to Iskcon without having some knowledge of Iskcon's chequered history. The only thing you can do is help them process all the information they already have, and give them a way to relate to what they will hear in the future.


    Last thing Iskcon needs is another generation of kept in the dark bhaktas who are thought of as incapable of sorting out truth from lies. Such devotees eventually find out all about the past problems in our movement and will feel that they were cheated.


    Good points.



    This is why ...



    The seeker of truth has to be qualified so they do not get cheated. The best way to do that is read Prabhupadas books.


    And do not be afraid to question everything a senior devotee does.



    If we are cheated or have been cheated in the past by accepting a fallen guru, then it is our fault for not being thorough.



    Even Prabhupada waited many years before being initiated. Finding a Guru is very serious. It is said if one is really sincere, then a bonafide Guru will find them, but that depends on ones sincere searching. As Krishna says, “if you take one steep towards me, I will take a hundred towards you”


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    Yes and no.


    Entering spiritual life is a complex and individual, psychological and circumstantial process. Very many factors can come into play.


    Just saying a person was cheated because he/she deserved to be cheated doesn't excuse much on the part of the organization.


    IMO, the people who followed Rajneesh deserved to be cheated much more than those who came into ISKCON in the ZA era.


    Comparing Srila Prabhupada's life with the average devotee's is ridiculous.


    In another thread a person was asking about the cause of a person pursuing a certain path even when that person had heard many arguments against following that path. ...




    The basic idea which Kapiladev is trying to impart is that the “material” world exists for those whose consciousness is affected by ahankara. What he is saying is what Srila Prabhupada mentions in the above i.e. that the “material world” exists as a condition of the conditioned soul. For the person who is free from illusion, or the enlightened devotee, for them, the external energy of the Lord, or the “material” world, no longer exists. They exist in the spiritual world no matter where they are. ...



    So to answer your question, the people who take up some type of sahajiya practice, do so because that is their karma. They do what they are forced to do. ...


    If the effect of offenseless chanting of the Hare Krishna maha-mantra is the reduction to zero of all karmic influences and liberation from control of subtle material influences, including the mind, then the continued influence of such karma must be the result of long-unresolved or ongoing offense.

  4. Some questions raised:


    Is there a prevailing assumption in the Vaisnava world as a whole that anyone who comes to ISKCON as a new bhakta is going to get screwed over in some way or another?


    Isn't it better for a new ISKCON bhakta to follow the program with faith that is perhaps blind, until he/she has gained sufficient maturity and spiritual strength to objectively evaluate the unfortunate circumstances of the past and their ongoing effects?


    Is ISKCON, in truth, an intransigently horrible organization, or is this a conclusion that is often erroneously drawn from information available online?


    Personally, my experience with ISKCON has been 95%+ positive, but then I was never a live-in bhakta. However, the trusting innocence of many years ago is gone; I've heard and read too much, a large part of it online.


    Mybe a fifth principle should be renunciation of the internet for two years?


    The most "personal connection" I have ever made with Prabhupada was through SDG's "Lilamrita" and not through Prabhupada's books. For me Lilamrita was an excellent book. At one time (in late 80's) I went on pilgrimage to New York and re-traced all the places connected to Prabhupada, using the "Planting the Seed" volume of Lilamrita. It was very magical and very real. I felt Prabhupada's presence in those places, even as some experiences were not at all what I expected, like the Tompkins Square Park, which was very small and full of dog poop. Only a New Yorker would call such a place a "park"... Anywan, the overwhelming impression from that trip was: "Prabhupada left Vrajabhumi to come to this hell-hole to deliver people like me...wow! I am so grateful to him for this sacrifice".




    Last time I was in NYC was Nov. 1984, on a fun trip with my wife. I had bought the first volume of Lilamrta and read it at that point, but hadn't reconnected sufficiently to desire visiting Srila Prabhupada's pastime locations, and my wife was very "green" about Krishna Consciousness back then.


    We're going to make a trip up east sometime in the near future, and this time intend to do the SP pilgrimage while in NYC, as you did.


    I have never met Srila Prabhupada in real life but I have been reading his books for almost 30 years. I never felt that there was any "meeting" or "contact" between us even as I see him as de facto my main spiritual guide (siksa guru). Over the years I have incorporated his teachings and ideas into practically all areas of my life. But he is certainly not the only spiritual guide I have, nor do I accept all of his ideas as practical, true, or actually needed in my life.


    I accepted the bulk of Prabhupada's teachings and ideas because I found them to be true and valuable, and most of all: because they were based on shastra and the tradition I adopted as my own.




    I feel connected to Prabhupada not in a personal sense, but in the sense of belonging to the same tradition, the same spiritual lineage, and in the sense of being indebted to him for bringing KC to the Western world and writing so many valuable books.


    I couldn't describe my feelings about Srila Prabhupada better.


    The sense of personal connection I have with SP is mainly from reading Satsvarupa Maharaja's Lilamrta and having known famous disciples Visnujana Maharaja and Tamal Krishna Maharaja, as well as a number of "regular" direct disciples.


    15 years as a siksa disciple of TKG and SDG's Lilamrta and other writings were essential foundational elements in my spiritual life.


    I will not take part in the vilification customarily heaped upon TKG and SDG.


    Apologies for diverting from the thread topic.


    You could all do what I did if this subject interests you, just humbly ask Jewish people down the local shopping centre and in the process tell them about Krishna. By the way all of them believe in reincarnation saying that as long as we have unfinished business and desires in this material world, then we must come back and take birth again.


    I'm not the outgoing preacher-type at all, another grievous shortcoming.



    I also found out that most detest 'so called' Christians and Muslims because of the many attempts of genocide against their faith over the last thousand years or so


    Yes, the Jews have been badly ******-over throughout history; little wonder Israel is such a militant state.




    It is very implausible that Egyptian religious beliefs and practices had no influence on ancient Judaism at all. Egypt was one of the most powerful cultures in the region and exercised widespread influence. The real question would seem to be just how extensive the influence was and how much of what is currently regarded as "Jewish" may have roots in ancient Egypt.



    The judgment scene from the Book of the Dead of the royal scribe Hunefer (ca 1285 bCE). From left: Anubis brings Hunefer into the judgment hall; his heart is weighed and Thoth makes note of the favorable verdict; Horus conducts Hunefer into the presence of Osiris. (Source: National Geographic, Ancient Egypt)


    From my dim memories of long-past readings about Egyptian religious practices, they did hold some views much similar to those of Judaism, Islam, and Christianity: belief in one earthly lifetime, in-detail concepts and descriptions of the post-death judgement process, and very large importance placed on the body, with belief in a transformation of the physical body into a spiritual or subtle one that lives eternally.


    Sanatana Prabhu, is it theist or Vedesu who has simple acceptance? And which one is actually thinking critically in your opinion? IOW I'm not sure how you are seeing this.


    Beggar...I'm looking at this more in a self-critical/self analytical way than anything, lamenting my own lack of simple acceptance and my tendency to think over-critically. I wasn't referring to theist or vedusu prabhus at all.


    But, now that you ask...I consider theist to be a critical and very insightful thinker.


    Vedesu, I've only recently encountered here, and haven't formed an opinion about beyond that he seems intelligent, knowledgeable, and respectful of other members.


    Simple acceptance can happen on a lot of levels...on some levels I do accept spiritual things simply, on others I don't, and that probably holds true for most of us here...otherwise, we wouldn't be hashing it out.

    ys, sanatan


    As Beggar was stating...


    Just my humble opinion. It doesn't have to be all or nothing. Both vapuh and vani have their value.





    We should have harden hearts to falsehood and half truths. We should be critical and doubt that which is not true. We should even be critically considering the truth until we realize it for ourselves.


    Lack of critical thinking keeps the doors of the guru business open for business.


    Sigh...seems like those who do the least critical thinking are the happiest, in any spiritual endeavor or material area of life.


    Simple acceptance and subservience without even inward questioning...self-realization or zombiehood?


    Surely, self-realization must include the facility to enter a transcendental-egoistic and critical state of consciousness at will, to become a madhyama-adhikari as circumstances dictate.


    Don't let their confusion become your confusion.


    The term "living guru" is extremely offensive. It implies some guru's are dead. This is a fools conception. Guru is not the body that soul used to spread krsna consciousness anymore then the car he drove around in.


    ....the only way for us to experience the tranformation to swan status is to keep our eye on the swans and follow their path and this meaning ignoring the loud quacking of the ducks.


    Like cbrahma, in order to keep my sanity, I've had to step back from active ISKCON participation and mentally re-program.


    Have I lost the baseline, essential aspects of faith? No.


    Have I become (more) hard-hearted and inwardly critical and doubting? Unfortunately, I think so.


    Is the above condition a transitional position? I pray that it is.



    Does anybody know of a good home-study PhD. program in particle physics? I've been thinking about going back to school.


    Well, around 1990 (waaay pre-internet), an outfit called Kennedy-Western University sent me an application and description of by-mail degree programs offered. Among these were doctorates in nuclear physics and electrical engineering. I filled out and sent back the app to enroll my cat in the EE Ph.D course, but they never replied back.


    Google them; I think they're still around and now online.



    If you don't like the term "living guru", how about "personal guru"? Please don't tell me the books are a person (except in the general sense that everything is a person).


    Nobody said the books are a person.


    I'm no Guruvani, a shastra-meister with instant verse, chapter, and date recall, but I do know that Srila Prabhupada stated that the guru and his teachings (contained in his books) are non-different.

  11. I'm still confused on this issue.


    Srila Prabhupada clearly indicated that association with him through his books was as good as personal association.


    Then, there are the proponents of the need for a "Living Guru" that state the above isn't sufficient in itself.




    Theist, I agree that ongoing association with those of decidedly devotional inclination is essential. Whether this includes having a "living" diksa-guru is what's questionable.

  12. Suchandra, I can see that many of us on this board are taking the steps into total honesty.


    IMO, it's totally forgivable when someone with an obviously sincere background shows genuine anger and frustration with aspects of their ISKCON experience, and is seemingly-offensive...I'd term this "shadow offense"...it'll go away. These people aren't offensive personalities; the "leaders" who shafted or merely misled them are.


    Regarding the Lilamrta, I collected the original books as they were published, and they are a treasured part of my library. I'm a little bemused when devotees squabble back and forth over the style of presentation or dispute the portrayal of Srila Prabhupada in a personal and human way. For me, these books have been a great substitute for never having known SP, and SDG did wonderful and irreplaceable service in writing them, no matter what else he did or didn't do.


    I've read volume one, A Lifetime In Preparation, at least twenty times.


    Establishing sannyasa asrama in the West was a big mistake IMO. There was no need for it and the risk was huge. Over 90% of sannyasis Prabhupada initiated fell down with disastrous consequences for the movement. The initial reason for reviving sannyasa in Gaudiya Sampradaya (commanding respect from general population) is not at all valid in the West. It would be much better to have PhDs and not sannyasis if we wanted to impress people. If you want to complain about "caste goswamis" then you should also complain about sannyasa in Iskcon. It brought a lot of shame to Gaudiya Vaishnavism and definitely damaged the mission. Lord Caitanya said: "kiba vipra, kiba nyasi, sudra kene naya yei krsna-tattva-vetta sei 'guru' haya". And Gita says that you dont have to wear saffron to be a true sannyasi. That was the approach of traditional GV parivars, and they were 100% correct on that account.


    To take this a step further:


    Requiring across-the-board complete celibacy for properly married men and women as a "principle" was and continues to be a huge mistake.


    St. Paul, who can correctly be considered a guru in the line of Jesus Christ, had a strict-yet-reasonable approach to the matter nearly 2000 years ago, as discussed in 1 Corinthians, particularly verses 7, 8, and 9 (italics mine) :


    7. For I would that all men were even as I myself. But every man hath his proper gift of God, one after this manner, and another after that.


    (In an ideal world, everyone could observe complete celibacy, as I do, but each person is an individual, with his/her God-given dharma.)


    8. I say therefore to the unmarried and widows, it is good for them if they abide even as I.


    (Yes, the ideal state for single people in spiritual life is celibacy.)


    9. But if they cannot contain, let them marry: for it is better to marry than to burn.


    (However, I realize that not all single people can maintain celibacy, so it's best for them to get married and have a sexual outlet than to burn with frustrated natural urges.)


    I love Srila Prabhupada, and will always give him the personal benefit of the doubt. In the case of strict celibacy, I think that his faith in Krishna in general, and the the traditional sadhana-bhakti process in particular, was so great that he had no doubt that the India-standard spiritual practices would enable all disciples to overcome personal obstacles...but, in his totally transcendental and pure faith, he over-estimated us Westerners.

  14. theist,


    regarding post #17:


    Thanks for openly sharing where you're at...and you've also happened to have described my own spiritual experience, situation, and realizations quite accurately....they're in many ways identical to yours, but you have the great literary gift for expressing it all.


    And cbrahma...I also know where you're coming from, very well.


    I've been through many gung-ho, 16-round, follow-all-the-principles periods, but now I just keep a 54-bead mala on the bedpost, and naturally wake up about 5, chant three or four 108-bead rounds very softly or silently so as not to wake my wife, and go back to sleep.


    I heard Tamal Krishna Maharaja say in a lecture many years ago that if once you chant the Names sincerely, Krishna will never let you forget him, even if you do your best to forget or neglect him. In my case, that's proven to be true...a day has not passed in 25 years when I haven't done, read or even just thought something related to Krishna and devotional service, even if I've been badly messed up on some substance or otherwise very fallen and negative psychologically.


    theist, cbrahma, me...we're marked men, like it or not.

  15. What you've posted is very informative, but isn't it from an offshoot of Judaism that is rarefied, esoteric and mystical, rather than what was referred to as "mainstream Judaism" in the other thread?


    Yes, Origen was an early Christian church father who believed in reincarnation, but if I'm not mistaken, recanted on that belief...I'll check up on it.


    Mainstream conservative Christians would rather sweep such historical aspects of faith under the rug.


    You misunderstand what I said. Since the only thing I know about you is that you can't figure out what your varna is I am assuming you are not a brahmana or a kshatriya because these guys usually have no problem figuring out their varna.


    What IS simple, is figuring out a person's varna based on their character and work they are performing - at least it is simple for people with a rudimentary knowledge on this subject.


    Many devotees refuse to acknowledge what their varna is (or might be) because of the clearly negative connotations Prabhupada ascribed to the lower varnas. Is that affecting your comprehension of the subject? I dont know, but I strongly suspect it is.


    I have had tons of discussions on this subject with devotees over the years (it was one of the topics that was very dear to me from the beginning) and the pattern is very clear: brahmanas and kshatriyas have no problem understanding VD or figuring out their own varna.


    Regarding varna, I'm clearly a vaisya; no personal problems with where that's at, and I also understand the concepts of varnasrama-dharma perfectly well.


    Yeh, "brahmanas" and "kshatriyas" certainly don't have a problem recognizing and declaring themselves as such...it's dog-eat-dog world, a person has to make a place and it might as well be at the top.


    I've said any number of times that I see Srila Prabhupada as a general in a war taking calculated risks, knowing full well that there might be heavy losses amongst his subordinates.


    Any perception of Srila Prabhupada's mission having been a failure is a product of our narrow, limited vision.


    Srila Prabhupada spearheaded a wave that made "Hare Krishna" a household word and paved the way for all subsequent distributors of the Holy Name.


    As the first wave subsides and ebbs, another wave gains momentum to push even further inland and overflood the hearts of all.


    Agree here with your big picture, but the losses among the troops..."regular" devotees, women, children...were heartbreakingly incalculable, while many of the corrupt generals and officers got golden parachutes, or are still in power.


    If there's no larger spiritual compensation for those that suffered the most and got no material compensation, then the whole thing is a sham, a house of cards.


    It is obvious. You just dont like the answer.


    I have a feeling you dont even understand what being a sudra is in the Vedic sense. Prabhupada often used the word sudra in a completely derogatory sense and now his followers dread such a designation. Actually sudras are the most flexible and free of all varnas to pursue their career.


    You're right, "sudra" is a dreaded designation!


    This brings back a funny memory...I was a degreed professional in my working life, and around 20 yrs. ago a devotee at the temple here told me that people in my profession were "sudras"...I was a bit miffed but kept it to myself.


    Actually, this whole topic is hot air.

  19. cbrahma,


    In no way do I believe that varnasrama-dharma as a formal system is practical, desirable, or implementable.


    All I'm saying is that for human beings it exists in nature and is observable, as are animal heirarchies: one animal will be dominant in its group or herd, and the others will function in deferential and supportive roles.


    Statements like this where VD and 'used' are used in the same sentence strike me as utterly incoherent.

    It's as though VD were some kind of formula or system that could be put into practice or not.

    Where are the implementation manuals? Where are the user guides?

    It is so completely abstract and idealistic alternating between description and prescription , between the natural and the philosophical as to be pointless except as a conversation piece.

    Furthermore if people are born into these varnas why would they even want to act as any other. And why are people's skills 'locked in' to only one skill set?

    The more one investigates it logically, the more it degenerates into utter confusion.


    In one way, I think you're missing the point. Varnasrama-dharma, in a widely-general sense, is observable in human typology and inherent in human affairs, even though it doesn't formally exist as an implemented system.


    In another, you're dead-on correct. The idea of fixed varnas or occupational duties grates against the deepest convictions of many of us who were born into the post-WWII democratic-meritocratic environment of the USA, and who consequently view the open choice to move occupationally, socially, and economically upward through personal effort as an "inalienable right".


    Perhaps Kipling was truly onto something: "East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet".


    Fair point, I was only saying what the Jews believe. My post was started with some frivolousness and if I offended you or Jesus Christ I apologize.


    These days I have no time for Judaism or Christianity. As far as I am concerned, fundamentalist Christians are just as fanatic as extremist Muslims. If you distributed books in the 70s, I’m sure you would have had your fair share of Christian fanatics trying to stop you as I did.


    My experience of modern day Christianity is as follows.


    In 1976 I was Srila Prabhupada’s Body guard... During all these attracts we remembered what Srila Prabhupada had said ‘Then our movement is having some success, these men feel threatened’


    Hare Krishna


    No thought of offense on your part crossed my mind!


    Your points about Judaism were interesting and informative and I was commenting in return.


    That's an awesome and also very scary story, definitely one for the ISKCON history books. I never distributed books or was close to Srila Prabhupada...as Beggar pointed out, you are indeed fortunate.


    As far as Christian fanatics go, I've met and debated my share. Never been close to a violent or dangerous incident, but there are stories around here about devotees being harassed and threatened physically.


    The best local story I've heard is about two Christians who sat in front of the temple in their car, praying for hours, then walked into the main temple room during the quieter part of a major festival and very loudly announced "In the name of Lord Jesus Christ, we command this place to be gone!!!".


    After several identical repetitions over maybe ten minutes, and the temple still standing, they sheepishly turned around, got back in their car, and drove away.


    Coming from a Jewish background, we never believed in Christ-mass. Even when met Prabhupada in 1971, many devotees back then where from the Jewish faith. Reincarnation is a solid belief of Judaism so it was easy for me and my old sparring mate Kurma the excentric cook, who was also Jewish, to take too Krishna Consciousness.


    That's a new one...I've always assumed mainstream Judaism rejected the idea of reincarnation and left it to fringe or mystical sects of the faith, as Christianity has historically done.



    Jews consider that Jesus was a only a teacher and leader, assuming he existed. Some of them think he only created a Jewish sect among many other Jewish sects, and that the one who really founded what we call Christianism was Paul. Jesus was not the Messiah because he did not fulfill the mission of the Messiah. For example, he was not a real king, he did not bring peace to the world and he did not come from the lineage of David (since Joseph was not his real father). Therefore, Jews are still waiting for the Messiah.


    Now that's a philosophical aspect for Judaism that I've always taken to be true across-the-board.


    There's a current raging debate in Christian thought on the point of Jesus', true position, going by many names: Who Was Jesus, the Historic Jesus, Christianity vs. Paulism, Christianity vs Jesusanity, others.


    Of course, the conservatives are employing all means possible to defend positions that were once held as, well, Gospel Truth.


    An observation: A majority of those of of Jewish and Christian convictions suffer from the effects of what Srila Prabhupada would term a "poor fund of knowledge" and an obstinate and ingrained unwillingness to look outside their own faith traditions and supporting evidence for answers to those stubbornly unanswerable questions.


    But that doesn't diminish the significance of the day traditionally held to be the birthday of Jesus Christ...IMO, Christmas is no less important than Janmastami, Gaura Purnima, or the appearance days of great Vaisnava acaryas.

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